from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A usually pliable metallic strand or rod made in many lengths and diameters, sometimes clad and often electrically insulated, used chiefly for structural support or to conduct electricity.
  • n. A group of wire strands bundled or twisted together as a functional unit; cable.
  • n. Something resembling a wire, as in slenderness or stiffness.
  • n. An open telephone connection.
  • n. Slang A hidden microphone, as on a person's body or in a building.
  • n. A telegraph service.
  • n. A telegram or cablegram.
  • n. A wire service.
  • n. Computer Science A pin in the print head of a computer printer.
  • n. The screen on which sheets of paper are formed in a papermaking machine.
  • n. Sports The finish line of a racetrack.
  • n. The system of strings employed in manipulating puppets in a show.
  • n. Hidden controlling influences.
  • n. Slang A pickpocket.
  • n. Fencing made of usually barbed wire.
  • transitive v. To bind, connect, or attach with wires or a wire.
  • transitive v. To string (beads, for example) on wire.
  • transitive v. To equip with a system of electrical wires.
  • transitive v. Slang To install electronic eavesdropping equipment in (a room, for example).
  • transitive v. To send by telegraph: wired her congratulations.
  • transitive v. To send a telegram to.
  • transitive v. Computer Science To implement (a capability) through logic circuitry that is permanently connected within a computer or calculator and therefore not subject to change by programming.
  • transitive v. To determine or put into effect by physiological or neurological mechanisms; hard-wire: "It is plausible that the basic organization of grammar is wired into the child's brain” ( Steven Pinker).
  • intransitive v. To send a telegram.
  • idiom down to the wire Informal To the very end, as in a race or contest.
  • idiom under the wire Sports At the finish line.
  • idiom under the wire Informal Just in the nick of time; at the last moment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Metal formed into a thin, even thread, now usually by being drawn through a hole in a steel die.
  • n. A piece of such material; a thread or slender rod of metal, a cable
  • n. A metal conductor that carries electricity.
  • n. A fence made of usually barbed wire.
  • n. A finish line of a racetrack.
  • n. A telecommunication wire or cable; hence, an electric telegraph; a telegram
  • n. A hidden listening device on the person of an undercover operative for the purposes of obtaining incriminating spoken evidence.
  • n. A deadline or critical endpoint.
  • n. A wire strung with beads and hung horizontally above or near the table which is used to keep score.
  • v. To fasten with wire, especially with reference to wine bottles, corks, or fencing.
  • v. To string on a wire.
  • v. To equip with wires for use with electricity.
  • v. To add something into an electrical system by means of wiring; to incorporate or include something.
  • v. To send a message or a money value to another person through a telecommunications system, formerly predominately by telegraph.
  • v. To make someone tense or psyched-up.
  • v. To install eavesdropping equipment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A thread or slender rod of metal; a metallic substance formed to an even thread by being passed between grooved rollers, or drawn through holes in a plate of steel.
  • n. A telegraph wire or cable; hence, an electric telegraph.
  • n. The system of wires used to operate the puppets in a puppet show
  • n. One who picks women's pockets.
  • n. A knitting needle.
  • n. A wire stretching across over a race track at the judges' stand, to mark the line at which the races end.
  • intransitive v. To pass like a wire; to flow in a wirelike form, or in a tenuous stream.
  • intransitive v. To send a telegraphic message.
  • transitive v. To bind with wire; to attach with wires; to apply wire to.
  • transitive v. To put upon a wire.
  • transitive v. To snare by means of a wire or wires.
  • transitive v. To send (a message) by telegraph.
  • transitive v. To place (a ball) so that the wire of a wicket prevents a successful shot.
  • transitive v. to equip with a system of wiring, especially for supply of electrical power or communication.
  • transitive v. to equip with an electronic system for eavesdropping; to bug.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An extremely elongated body of elastic material; specifically, a slender bar of metal, commonly circular in section, from the size which can be bent by the hand with some difficulty down to a fine thread.
  • n. A twisted thread; a filament.
  • n. A quantity of wire used for various purposes, especially in electric transmission, as in case of the telephone, the telegraph, electric lighting, etc.; specifically, a telegraph-wire, and hence (colloquially) the telegraph system itself: as, to send orders by wire.
  • n. A metallic string of a musical instrument; hence, poetically, the instrument itself.
  • n. The lash; the scourge: alluding to the use of metallic whips.
  • n. In ornithology, one of the extremely long, slender, wire-like filaments or shafts of the plumage of various birds. See wired, wire-tailed, and cut under Videstrdda.
  • n. plural Figuratively, that by which any organization or body of persons is controlled and directed: now used chiefly in political slang. See wire-pulling.
  • n. A pickpocket with long fingers, expert at picking women's pockets.
  • n. A fiber of cobweb, a fine platinum wire, or a line upon glass, fixed in the focus of a telescope, to aid in comparing the positions of objects.
  • Made of wire; consisting of or fitted with wires: as, a wire sieve; a wire bird-cage.
  • In electricity, a kind of Wheatstone bridge in which two adjacent resistances are formed by a wire which can be divided in any ratio by means of a sliding contact and a graduated scale.
  • To bind, fit, or otherwise provide with wire; put wire in, on, around, through, etc.: as, to wire corks in bottling liquors; to wire beads; to wire a fence; to wire a bird-skin, as in taxidermy; to wire a house for electric lighting.
  • To snare by means of a wire: as, to wire a bird.
  • To send through a telegraphic wire; send by telegraph, as a message; telegraph: as, wire a reply.
  • To be wound or bound about like wire; encircle.
  • In surgery, to maintain the ends of (a fractured bone) in close apposition by means of wire passed through holes drilled in the bone.
  • To flow in currents as thin as wire.
  • To communicate by means of a telegraphic wire; telegraph.
  • n. In paper-making, a general term for the woven brass wire-cloth used in a Fourdrinier or paper-making machine.
  • n. By derivation from this, an annealed wire of size and weight suitable for weaving into nettings, wire-cloth, and the like.
  • n. A corruption of weir.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. send cables, wires, or telegrams
  • n. the finishing line on a racetrack
  • n. a message transmitted by telegraph
  • n. ligament made of metal and used to fasten things or make cages or fences etc
  • n. a metal conductor that carries electricity over a distance
  • v. equip for use with electricity
  • v. fasten with wire
  • v. provide with electrical circuits
  • v. string on a wire


Middle English, from Old English wīr.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English wīr, from Proto-Germanic *wĩraz, from Proto-Indo-European *wei- ('to turn,' 'to twist,' 'to plait'). Cognate with Swedish vira ('to twist'), Latin vieo, viere ('to weave together'), Welsh gwyr ('bent'), and Greek ίρις ('rainbow'). (Wiktionary)


Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "11. A pickpocket with long fingers, expert at picking women's pockets.
    12. A fiber of cobweb, a fine platinum wire, or a line upon glass, fixed in the focus of a telescope, to aid in comparing the positions of objects."
    --Cent. Dict.

    August 30, 2011

  • Used as a verb in North American sports reporting:

    "Stars centre Mike Ribeiro wired a shot that trickled through the legs of Luongo."

    Luongo, Canucks outduel Stars,, 4-18-07.

    May 21, 2008